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Tuesday, 15 October 1985
Page: 1216


Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. I refer Senator Ryan to Budget Paper No. 1 1985-86 which, on page 233, refers to a reduction in outlays for land development projects being a result of a one-off grant in 1984-85 to Western Australia for the purchase of four pastoral property leases. I ask: Was it conditional, and is it intended for the Aboriginal groups to purchase one or more of the restructured holdings following the Commonwealth's assistance to the Western Australian Government to purchase these pastoral leases?


Senator RYAN —I have some information to assist Senator Crichton-Browne. It is the case that the Government has made a one-off grant of $6m to Western Australia to assist with the restructuring of the pastoral industry in the Kimberleys. I am informed that the Western Australian Government has set up a steering committee comprising representatives of all relevant groups, including Aborigines, to advise on the restructuring. It is anticipated that the Aboriginal people will then be able to participate in the redeveloped Kimberleys pastoral region. I do not have any more specific information than that but I can refer the matter to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs to see whether there is any more specific information in answer to Senator Crichton-Browne's query.


Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I understood Senator Ryan to be saying that the money was provided, in part, to allow the Aboriginal community to purchase one of the properties. That was the logical conclusion I had drawn from the Budget Papers. I ask: Why does there appear to be conflict between that answer and an answer which Mr Burke gave in the State Parliament in which he was quite specific in saying-I need not quote him-that the money was not granted conditional upon a pastoral lease being granted or that it was not in any way intended that a pastoral lease would be granted to the Aboriginal community?


Senator RYAN —The information I just gave, on behalf of the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, to Senator Crichton-Browne did not contain any specific reference to the purchase of a pastoral property by an Aboriginal community. I do not know whether that is the intention. I repeat for Senator Crichton-Browne's benefit the information I have available which is that our Government has made a one-off grant of $6m to Western Australia to assist with the restructuring of the pastoral industry in the Kimberleys. I do not know the details of how that restructuring will be implemented.

I am able to inform Senator Crichton-Browne that the Western Australian Government has set up a steering committee, comprising representatives of all the relevant groups, including Aborigines, to advise on the restructing. It is anticipated that Aboriginal people will be able to participate in the redeveloped pastoral industry. What mode their participation will take, whether it will be by the management of a pastoral property or by working on it in some way, I do not know. I will refer that matter to Mr Holding for further information.